A Good Home, Faith, Friendship, Legacy

What We Leave Behind

One fine spring day, my husband  and I drove by the old farmhouse his family once owned. We were so amazed by what we saw that he stopped the car. The two “small” weeping willows he planted decades ago at the front of the property were now sprawling giants.

At the top of the driveway, to the left, towered a beautiful light blue pine, almost as tall as the house. It glistened in the sunshine, its colour even more breathtaking now than when we first planted it. 

Subsequent owners had preserved these trees, but removed many others that we’d planted. 

It made me think of legacy. What we leave behind. What others deem worthy, and what they don’t.

There are the usual possessions, of course. The dwelling, the furniture, the coin collection, the lovely dishes.

Blog Photo - Afternoon Tea pink cup and saucer

Things we acquire.  And even the trees we plant.

But the older one gets, the more we realize that it’s often the intangibles that are our true legacy.  The love, understanding and support we gave to others. The doors we unlocked so others could walk through, the actions we took to comfort or strengthen others during rough times.  

And even how we say goodbye.


Jeni Rankin lived in Scotland. I met her through her blog (The Hopeful Herbalist). We shared a love for family and nature. Her prose, poetry and photos radiated beauty,  tranquility and a caring spirit. We became blogger friends and penpals. 

It was when my husband got critically ill a few years ago — and Jeni kept in touch with us through her letters and prayers — that I realized where some of that tranquility and caring came from. Jeni’s faith was strong.

Last year came her cancer diagnosis. It must have knocked her sideways, but she continued to inspire those around her. Husband Ian, their children, relatives and friends — and even far-away penpals like me. 

She wrote a final letter last year. There is such grace, faith and love in it, and every time I read it, I thank Jeni for these words she left behind for us. With her family’s approval I share it here, hoping her words will uplift and inspire others too:

Dearest family and friends, I just wanted to say ‘Thank you’ each and every one of you for the small acts of  gladness you have showered on me and the family. Each one a token of love and prayers poured out for us.

*** Warning – this might make you sad ***

Many of us never get a chance to say ‘Goodbye’ so I just want to take a little time right now and say Goodbye and thank you for the memories, your friendship and fellowship. Shared meals, parties, weddings, births and inevitably funerals. Live everyday well, with gladness in your hearts. Seize the Day!

“Stand at the crossroads and look;

ask for the Ancient paths

ask where the good way is, and walk in it,

and you will find rest to your souls.”

Jeremiah 6:16 

Death is a mystery, and we know it comes to each of us but our faith has carried us to this juncture with your wonderful support and love.

“Death is not the end; it is only a new beginning.

Death is not the master of the house; 

he is only the porter in the King’s lodge, 

appointed to open the gate and let

the King’s guest into the realms of eternal day.'”

John Henry Jowett (1864 -1925)

We live in a random world filled with random acts. A few random acts with my DNA and a few, miscreant cancer cells have always been one step ahead of treatment. It’s cancer hidden in plain sight, right there in the mouth, so please keep an eye on your mouth and take regular dental checks.

Meanwhile I try to live each day as I can with a smile, with grace and joy in my heart. My hope for you is that you too will live every day ‘until breath becomes air…’

AND I get to choose my music for the funeral. (NO, not “Ding, dong the witch is dead!) I want one of those great hymns that speak volumes in a few words. If any of you musicians want to bring your instrument; feel free!😅   .. We have just spent some time with Pastor Nick discussing the arrangements. There will be a committal at Monkton Natural Cemetery before a service in church followed by a tea to which you are all warmly invited. We intend to sing Abide with me at the committal, please bring your instruments. My family confess that music is not their best strength! 

“Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;

Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.

Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;

In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.”

Thank you  for all the lovely flowers too  but if you wish to make a donation on behalf of http://www.letstalkaboutmouthcancer.co.uk/ to allow them to continue their work promoting self examination and information  about oral cancer please do…

But now I need to rest, just want to leave a lovely song for you too…


Now may the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace, as you trust in Him, 

with much love, 

Jeni xoxoxoxox





45 thoughts on “What We Leave Behind”

  1. Beautiful and poignant. A reminder to live each day to it’s fullest and to be kind to each other for we know not the hour.

  2. Touching and inspiring at the same time. I am sorry to hear about the passing of Jeni and the loss of your friendship, and at the same time I am blessed by her living words which continue to expand the legacy she has left in ever widening circles. My thoughts and prayers are with her family and all those who loved her and who now miss her.
    Thank you for sharing. Hugs and blessings to you. ❤

  3. I have lost two older friends just this month. This sincere and thought provoking post with such a love-filled letter from Jeni means a lot to me. The song she selected is beautiful. Thank you, my friend. ❤

  4. Thank you for sharing this letter, what a beautiful thing to do, to have this last conversation with those who meant something to her, from the newest friends to those of a lifetime. Kindness and thoughtfulness are a wonderful legacy.

  5. Thank you for sharing this lovely last letter from your friend. She must have been a kind and giving soul to say goodbye so unselfishly to her friends and family.

  6. Jeni is a rare soul, to offer such optimism and inspiring words when she was suffering and, I expect, scared. I’m glad you’ve made sure these words reach a broader audience–we all benefit from reading them.

  7. What a wonderful post. What a wonderful letter. Thank you for sharing it with us, Cynthia. Jenni’s words leave me with a rush of conflicted feelings but mostly with a sense of love and awe. Her grace and courage stand above all. And by sharing, there are ripples in the pond… Her words are already reaching out. May her legacy continue to inspire.

  8. She sounds like a beautiful person. I’m sure you are glad your paths crossed and you blessed each other. Thank you for sharing some of that blessing with us . . .

  9. What a beautiful post this is, Cynthia, thank you. Jeni’s letter is so positive and inspiring. How wonderful that she was able to say her goodbyes in this way. The concept of a ‘good death’ is hard to think about in any situation, but surely this expression of love and thanks is a marvellous example of how one can ‘die well’. xxx

  10. I suppose you could look at this with sad eyes, but being of Faith it’s truly inspiring and such a testament to Jeni’s faith and character and those who have a similar faith know she is shining in glory! Beautiful…thanks for sharing

  11. Thank you, Cynthia, for this lovely post, and for sharing Jeni’s final letter. It is beautiful, as is the song. Both she – and you – are reminders of what we leave behind and how precious these gifts really are.

  12. What a wonderful thing to do. Bless her heart, what a lovely person she must have been.

    And Abide With Me was very appropriate as her choice. The fellow who wrote it was suffering from a terminal illness at the time. Perhaps that’s why the words speak to so many of us. I think I remember it right, he was feeling very troubled and went for a walk along the beach to clear his head. When he came home he felt much better, sat down and wrote Abide With Me. I can imagine she knew that.

    Thank you for sharing.



    1. I didn’t know that! How appropriate. Jeni was a very thoughtful person and she might well have known. thanks for sharing this information with us, MT. I have long known that song, but had no idea. I guess it’s like Amazing Grace: who was to know it was written by the captain of a slave ship as part of his repentance?

  13. Cynthia, your post is so beautiful and deeply felt. Thank you for sharing. To have had a friend like your Jeni is a blessing and though the pain is great the riches she left behind is of such light and faith and caring for you all.


  14. What a sweet soul Jeni was and is. Beautiful tribute, dear Cynthia. I love these words of yours: “The actions we took to comfort or strengthen others during rough times.” Amen. Love counts most.
    Blessings & hugs ~ Wendy

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